Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Cult with No Name: For Those Who Don’t Fit In

This one makes a good segue with today’s album by David J. London duo Cult with No Name’s fourth album, Adrenalin, came out on Halloween on Trakwerx. With its deadpan, brooding vocals and goth-tinged keyboard melodies, it’s the best one yet from the self-styled “post punk electronica balladeers.” Once the Williamsburg crowd hears the 80s new wave pop of Breathing – an blippy, ambient track that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Stranglers post-1985 catalog – every “celebrity dj” will want to remix it into unrecognizability. The rest of the album is a lot more substantial (legendary Clash associate and punk/reggae dj Don Letts is a fan). It opens with a long, pensive solo piano intro punctuated by the occasional echoey synth splash, similar to the Walkabouts’ recent work. The sardonic title track sets lo-fi 80s synth-goth to a trip-hop drum loop like early Dead Can Dance: “I’m not addicted to love, I’m addicted to pain…”

Macabre piano rivulets and vocals build to a majestic orchestral sweep on the next track, reminding of Blonde Redhead at their most goth, followed by the icy, accusatory piano ballad The Way You’re Looking at Me. The felicitously titled Youlogy blends watery acoustic guitar and eerily airy synth washes – it could be a more overtly goth Bobby Vacant, a vivid portrayal of the struggle to express grief with any degree of eloquence. It’s quite a contrast with the irresisibly funny, blippy goth spoof The All Dead Burlesque Show: “So teasing, but don’t tell me it’s art…don’t think it’s all about good taste, and I don’t care about your eight-inch waist.”

The rest of the album eclectically mines various 80s dark rock veins: the understated, noir cabaret bounce of Gone; the lush, echoey guitar ballad 7 and its mirror image, -7, a sad, cinematic piano soundscape, and the clip-clop downtempo pop of Make a List. The album ends with a wallop with Generation That’s, a majestic, bitterly poetic slap at the expectation that one should fit into one generation or another, the implication here being that for those of us who will never fit in, it’s a long, lonely road. Like every Trakwerx album, this one is elegantly packaged, in this case in a lustrous, metallic blue-grey cardboard sleeve that blends austere Factory Records minimalism with playful, retro 60-style, Doorsy embellishments.

December 28, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 6/22/10

Every day, for a little more than a month, our best 666 songs of alltime countdown continues all the way to #1. Tuesday’s song is #37:

Pulp – Common People

The most savage, most spot-on anti-trendoid anthem ever written, a big wet loogie for every smug, cluelessly obtuse trust fund kid from here to Bushwick:

When you’re lying in bed watching roaches climb the walls
If you called your daddy he could stop it all
You’ll never live like common people…

From Different Class, 1996.

June 22, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Fast Sails – The Wayside

An auspicious debut by these smart, irrepressible, uneasy Angelenos. Frontwoman Simone Snaith (actor Shane West’s younger sister) has a soaring, disarmingly direct voice that imbues the songs with an irresistibly unselfconscious, quirky charm, like Kate Bush at her most accessible. The Fast Sails’ songs look back fondly on artsy, ornately glossy retro 80s pop while adding a grittier modern rock edge. Imagine St. Vincent but without the affectations, a happier Bat for Lashes (an oxymoron, but try it anyway), or Amy Allison if she’d gotten stuck in an 80s time warp and picked up a DX7 instead of a guitar. Back in the day they used to call a lot of what’s on this album “good top 40.”

Time, the swooshy, thoughtful opening track works a catchy four-chord hook and one of those “oh, oh” Gwen Stefani melismas. The Line is a pensively sweeping art-pop ballad, chorus shooting a poison arrow through the heart of a faithless lover. The strongest track here is Wayside, stark and resolute with mandolin way up in the mix, adding an Americana edge to a melody that’s otherwise pure London, 1983. It’s a snarling look at dealing with greedy club owners:

So we need fifty in a crowd or
We don’t get paid, we aren’t allowed oh
I’ll play the sidewalk for free for as long as I can
I promise to get up and sing

It makes a good left coast counterpart to Tom Warnick’s classic anthem 40 People. The final track here is The City, adding surprising edge and bite to a coy Missing Persons-style new wave pop song: Snaith is quick on the trigger with anyone who would necessarily pigeonhole her adopted hometown as shallow and superficial. A lot of good rock has come out of LA over the years: count the Fast Sails at the forefront of this era’s crop.

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment